Traditionally dads have made up a minority of parents on session. Oxford Playcentre dad and centre Co-president, Salvo, is one of many fathers actively changing this. His enthusiasm for Playcentre is boundless, and he’s keen to see more dads get involved.

Salvo is a stay at home father of two. He describes himself as “an extremely proud dad of my 3-year-old daughter, Agata. Just 8 months ago we also became super-extremely-proud fathers to C. He’s now 2 years old. I can hardly remember my life prior to becoming a dad, a stay at home father, and a spouse.”

Salvo’s home is a vibrant and busy one. “We like to consider ourselves an international enterprise. I’m Italian and Australian, my partner is Puerto Rican and Swiss. Agata is 1/8 Maori and kiwi, our boy is European and kiwi. In our household we speak Italian and Spanish, seldom English, and my children are Italian-Spanish bilingual. We share our time – and patience – with two cats, two parakeets, a rabbit, three ducks, four hens, and three guinea hens. Our home is a really busy place.”

When Salvo moved from Auckland to Canterbury just two and a half years ago, a friend encouraged him to join the local Playcentre. At the time he knew nothing about Playcentre. Since then his life as a parent and beyond has been strongly shaped by the “gentle, welcoming and warm-hearted friendly community” he found there. “Having been the son of migrants, and an expat for the majority of my working life, frequenting our Playcentre gave me a sense of belonging, an extra set of sisters and brothers, another reason to stop and take a breath.”

For Salvo, being able to watch your children learn and grow is one of the great pleasures of being on session. “Being a Playcentre dad comes with a lot of awesomeness. I get to watch my children being social and independent, I get to participate in their play, I get to witness their learning. Most importantly, I can, without any inhibition, extend my family life and adventures within the physical and emotional spaces of Playcentre. I get the chance to wake up the kid in me and let it free! Dancing and pretending to be a butterfly, go on a bug hunt, paint dinosaur tracks, believe in the magic of fairy tales! Who wouldn’t want to do it?”

As we all know, Playcentre is much more than a place for your children to play. It is a family, with all the varied and wondrous experiences that that word connotes. “My children and I formed extraordinary relationships within our Playcentre community”, Salvo explains. “We all take care of each other and this, consequently, extends outside the boundaries of Playcentre life, finding its way right into our family lives.”

Thank you, Salvo, for being such a great example of what dads can contribute to Playcentre.

Frances Martin